Cooling off your Prius — with sunshine?
Roll your windows down and let the cool air in?
In all seriousness, heating and cooling the passenger compartment is one of the greatest weaknesses of electric cars. Heating, especially, sucks a lot of juice.
Unless you’re located, say less than 20 miles inland, between San Jose and San Diego, or only drive on Spring or Autumn days.
The details are not that stupid.
A photovoltaic cell would power a small fan to flush the car of hot air while SITTING in the sun. SAAB had this feature on one of their show cars a few years ago.
No way solar could provide regular air conditioning or motive power.
(BTW, I’m a nuclear engineer and have little patience for stupid “renewables” advocates. But this idea is not so bad.)
It would probably be a bit foolish to assume that Toyota hasn’t done their homework and is planning on nothing more than slapping a PV cell on the roof and connecting the power leads to a stock automotive air conditioning unit. It’s possible to be a little more clever than that. Refrigeration usually requires “spikey” power consumption, so I would imagine that a separate, small battery would be used (charged from the PV array). Also, I would imagine the AC system might be re-engineered to draw less power, this sort of thing is rarely done in automobiles because a few hundred watts of power draw is no big deal when you’ve got tens of thousands of watts of power being produced inches away (1 horsepower = 746 Watts).
Overall it’s an intriguing idea but probably not terribly worthwhile. I’m sure it will sell more Priuses though, which Toyota won’t mind one bit.
The sun doesn’t drive the air conditioning, it drives a little, tiny fan that flushes hot air out of the car.
When the sun shines, the car does the greenhouse thing and the interior heats up. The fan now has electrical power, operates, and blows the hot air out using ambient air.
Try reading the previous comments.
Joseph, do you have any official confirmation that this is the way the system will work in the Prius? You mention that a SAAB concept vehicle had a system as you described, but this hardly implies this will be the design the Prius uses. If you could provide a reference to an official comment from Toyota concerning the design of this feature that would be very helpful.
Here’s the SAAB concept car from 1985 with the PV roof driving a ventilation fan.
Toyota hasn’t released any details that I could find via Google but the possibilities are pretty much the same, even with better PV cells.
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